Family fun at The Grainary

Berndt-Paral brings community together through on-farm event venue

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HARTFORD, Wis. – When Doreen Berndt-Paral got the idea to create a marketplace on her dairy farm, an unused granary served as the perfect spot to set up shop. She turned a 50-year-old grain bin into a venue for holding events and invited the community into sharing a piece of Dairy Queens Farms with her.
The Grainary, as it is called, is an extension of the dairy farm that gives Berndt-Paral and the female members of her family the opportunity to share some of their talents outside of the dairy such as baking, small crafts, produce and more. The grain bin is now the site of four yearly events centered around fall, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter.
“I love getting together with neighbors and meeting new people, and The Grainary is a great way to welcome the community to our farm,” Berndt-Paral said. “It’s another way we have diversified our operation.”
Berndt-Paral and her family milk 650 cows and farm 1,500 acres near Hartford. Berndt-Paral farms with her husband, Eli Paral, and her sons, Heath, Levi and Calvin Berndt, and Heath’s wife, Jennifer. Berndt-Paral kept the farm going after her first husband, Keith Berndt, passed away unexpectedly in 2009.  
An iconic farm fixture, The Grainary offers hospitality, entertainment and nostalgia. The words “Welcome to The Grainary” grace the outside of this rustic country destination. Lights strung from side to side accompanied by other décor give the space a cozy vibe inside. Offering fun for the whole family, this neighborhood gathering place features a little something for everyone.
“The grain bin was standing here empty forever,” Berndt-Paral said. “My husband cut a door out in it last summer, and we went from there, hosting our first event in the fall. It was really fun and went really well.”
Her granddaughter’s roadside stand – Lindsay May’s Market – served as the inspiration for The Grainary.
“A couple years ago, Lindsay May wanted to earn a few bucks on the side selling produce during the summer, and I wanted to expand on this idea,” Berndt-Paral said.
Most events are centered around holidays and take place on the weekend. Fall Harvest at The Grainary will feature items to purchase such as pumpkins, cornstalks, flowers, baked goods, popcorn and gifts along with horse-drawn wagon rides, a corn maze, bouncy house, food truck and ice cream truck. This year, the family planted sunflowers and sweetcorn to offer too.
Last year’s fall event coincided with silage harvest, and wagon rides alongside the farm’s hustle and bustle provided an opportunity to highlight what was happening in the field – an added bonus that was enjoyed by all in attendance.
The baked goods made by Berndt-Paral and her daughter-in-law and future daughter-in-law, like cakes, cookies, and breads, are big sellers at events.
“We make everything from scratch using real chocolate (and)vanilla,” she said. “People love them.”
Homemade soap and maple syrup, eggs, T-shirts and other odds and ends are also for sale in The Grainary. In addition, the events serve as another avenue for distributing the farm’s fresh ground beef which, along with the eggs, is a crowd pleaser. Maple trees bordering The Grainary are the source of the family’s homemade syrup.
The farm is also home to a team of Suffolk Punch draft horses, and the family offers horse-drawn wagon rides during their events. At Christmas, sleigh rides are the perfect complement to the festivities.
“I always just worked with cattle until Eli brought horses into my world,” Berndt-Paral said. “The horses are a lot of fun but also a lot of work. We love them a lot.”
The horses live across from the dairy barn, but in the future, they will be housed in a barn next to The Grainary, which is located on the opposite side of the road from the dairy.
“I didn’t want people on the farm side of the road, so this was the perfect place to do this,” she said.
A project she is passionate about, Berndt-Paral said The Grainary is a work in progress. She and her family continue to finetune this vintage centerpiece and plan to do more landscaping this year. There are also plans to incorporate an old garage next door to The Grainary to display the overflow of items in their marketplace.
The Grainary is more than just a structure; it is a welcoming respite that Berndt-Paral created with help from her family. A future goal she has is to keep The Grainary open all summer to sell produce and ground beef. The family has plans to add air conditioning to maintain a comfortable temperature in the building on hot, summer days.
“We wanted to start out slow, but we’re hoping to continue to grow each year,” Berndt-Paral said. “The Grainary is becoming a special place to a lot of people.”


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